HOMES on Mersea Island have been left at risk of flooding for more than three years after delays hindered the construction of a temporary flood barrier.

Essex County Council was given permission to install a demountable flood defence barrier in Carrier Close, West Mersea, in September 2020.

The purpose of the removable structure, which was originally set to be completed within 22 weeks, is to reduce the risk of flooding to 12 homes in Coast Road and The Lane, but it is yet to be installed despite the project already being over-budget.

A Freedom of Information request reveals the original construction cost was just over £427,000, but £460,000 has already been spent on the project.

Gazette: Flooding - an islander navigates floodwater using a paddleboardFlooding - an islander navigates floodwater using a paddleboard (Image: Tracy Wiseman)

Delays have occurred because issues were identified with the soil at the site once work started.

Mersea councillor John Jowers says “massive engineering works” have taken place since it was discovered the road needed piling to strengthen weak soil underneath.

Mr Jowers, who is also the county councillor for the area, said: “They’ve tried their best but it needs more work. I feel a lot of sympathy for the people who live down there.”

The county council estimates the project, which is largely funded by the Environment Agency, will cost a total of £650,000 to complete, but this is “subject to weather delays, materials cost increase and any other unforeseen issues”.

A document published by West Mersea Town Council reveals at least six incidents of flooding near misses have been recorded since a large tidal surge in December 2013.

An email sent from the county council to town councillors and seen by the Gazette says a site compound should be established on December 4, with a further 14 weeks set aside to finish the remaining works.

Essex County Council officials are currently believed to be in the process of applying for permits, agreeing health and safety documents, and notifying the Health and Safety Executive so the works can resume shortly.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “Recent delays have been caused by a request for additional information about a listed property, with approval from the local planning department taking longer than expected.

“We are confident the outstanding work will be completed within the specified timescales, with a remobilisation date set for December 4. This is dependent on any extenuating circumstances, such as weather conditions.”